As a key deliverable of the AgroRES project the Institute of technology, Sligo (IT Sligo) has completed a regional self-assessment of the situation in the Northwest of Ireland regarding investments and use of Renewable Energy (RE) in the agricultural sector.  The Regional Self-Assessment examines the RE resources and current levels of deployment of RE technologies in the Northwest Region.  Further to this the routes to exploitation are examined from the perspective of the agricultural and rural sectors.  As the AgroRES project aims to inform policy makers, the Regional Self-Assessment focuses on RE solutions which are more likely to have a widespread impact.

The Assessment shows that uptake of RE in the agricultural sector remains low.  The climate policy for agriculture focuses on the reduction of Green House Gases (GHG) through land and animal management and recognises that energy related GHG emissions are a very low fraction in the agricultural sector.  However, there are significant opportunities for greater RE deployment, particularly in the more energy intensive sectors such as pig, poultry and horticulture.  Longer term opportunities are also likely to emerge in the renewable gas (biomethane for heat and transport) sector. Key challenges in the region, and Ireland in general, include the prevalence of smaller farms with limited financial or technical capacity for investment and an absence or delay in the development of support incentives. 

The Assessment outlines the evolving and emerging support mechanisms which are particularly suited to the agricultural sector including the Support Scheme for Renewable Heat (SSRH), the Microgeneration Support Scheme (MSS) and identifies the renewable electricity policy gap for small-scale installations (50kW to 500kW) which would be highly applicable to the sector. 

If you want to know more about the potential of this region, read the Regional Self-Assessment Report.

The Assessment is helping us to design our Action Plan for Phase 2 of the project which will improve the delivery of regional policy objectives by integrating an increased understanding and deployment of renewable energy technologies with enhancements in Agri-sector innovation, pushing convergence between farm, research, technology and commercialisation.  The Action Plan will be delivered by IT Sligo, the Northern & Western Regional Assembly (NWRA) in collaboration with the Teagasc Farm Advisory service.

Photo: It Sligo.